STAFF at companies across East Lancashire have told of their anger as their bosses demand they continue to travel to work despite the coronavirus outbreak.

They are worried for their own health and passing the virus on to vulnerable people by having to work in factories, many in non-essential roles.

A worker at Crown Paints in Darwen, who asked to remain anonymous, said that conditions were too cramped to follow social distancing guidelines.

She said: “We can’t keep the two-metre separation distance, they’ve run out of masks and hand sanitiser.

“We’ve all been complaining…nobody wants to be here.”

A Crown Paints spokesperson said: “We have followed guidance from the British Coatings Federation and all colleagues that can work from home are doing so.

“For these individuals social distancing measures have been re-enforced.

“Our business also forms part of the supply chain for DIY and hardware stores, the construction industry, public services and sole proprietors.

“We face challenging times and are taking each day as it comes and will continue to closely monitor and follow advice from the government.”

A member of staff at Senator, a furniture company with its headquarters in Altham, claims it is putting staff at risk by keeping the workplace open.

"Staff are coughing on each other and waiting for this pandemic to hit,” he said.

“Staff are also worried that if they choose to protect themselves and self-isolate, they will not be paid.”

Colin Mustoe, chief executive at Senator, said: “Wherever possible, we’ve made arrangements for employees to work from home and have purchased laptops and printers to make this possible. We have absolute sympathy with employees and if they have any doubts at all they shouldn’t come in.

“There’s no question of being unpaid; they’ll be paid whatever the sick pay ranges are for that individual.

“Our business supplies care homes, hospitals and government departments so we’re trying to keep that going.

“It’s very complicated and the easy way is just to shut down - we’re trying to protect the future of our employees going forward and at the same time supply what the country needs at the moment.”

Workers and people on social media have strongly criticised fashion firm Boohoo for keeping its distribution centre in Burnley open.

A company spokesperson said the measures at the Burnley site were “extensive” and being monitored by senior managers.

“It is wholly untrue to suggest that we are not protecting the wellbeing of our team,” the spokesperson said.

“We are following the guidance of government which at this time allows logistics to continue with the right precautions.”